viral content before the internet

Chain Letters

This first type of chain letters could have began as early as 1795. They are not exactly the same as chain mail because they do not require the recipient to forward the letter to others, however they do suggest bad luck will befall those who fail to spread the word or publish the letter, and were widely circulated so are in some senses the earliest form of chain mail. They were religious in content and are known as the letters from heaven.

Check Silcom for a full Chain Letter Evolution.

The first real chain letters were the “send a dime” prosperity club letters. They gained prominence in the 1930’s but are known to have existed as far back as 1888. They required the addresses of 5 friends and for the recipient to send 10 cents as a charitable donation on the promise they would receive more money in the future.

Not all chain letters were intended to be scams or fear inducing. Some were incredibly silly such as the underpants chain letters from the 1990’s. Send a new pair of pants to the person who send you the letter, and send out the same letter to 6 friends to receive 6 pairs of brand new knickers in return. Where’s the catch?!

Ways content could go viral pre internet

Bootlegging Tapes

Musicians have passed around live recordings of sets with some of their musical heroes since they could record their own copies, but one of the most famous bootlegs of a musician was a recording of the rants of jazz drummer Buddy Rich. He has had his words permeate pop culture, even being featured in an episode of Seinfeld.

Similarly bootleg recordings of pranks, like “Shut Up Little Man!” or “The Jerky Boys” circulated as bootlegs until publishers picked up on them and realised there was money to be made in commercialising the popular works.

Zines and pamphlets

Zines of the 80s and 90s

One of the simplest an earliest ways to get a message across in the pre internet, and even the before recorded audio and video existed was with the written word.

There is an argument that one of America’s earliest viral works resulted in the American Revolution. Common Sense was a 48 page pamphlet anonymously published by Thomas Paine in 1776. He made his case for independence from British rule in plain English and the pamphlet sold 120,000 copies in its first month.

In the 1990’s in particular there was a rise in the number of zines before the internet took over, although they had been steadfastly popular since the 1970’s. Zines were usually music focussed or political in nature, but there were of course exceptions to the rule. In the 90’s many feminist riot grrl zines began to appear and garnered some attention from the media.

When the internet became accessible to most people zines disappeared almost entirely due to an increase in blogs and personal websites. However zines are on the increase again as a new generation (mostly hipsters) resurrects this artful form of communication.

Film festivals and bootleg VHS

A combination of showing unique and interesting content at film festivals and subsequent bootlegging of said content led to videos going viral prior to the internet. This also occurred in the early days of cable TV when the channels required short fillers between shows and adverts.

3 examples of this are:

Reefer Madness

Created as a PSA film in 1937 discouraging the use of marijuana, the film was rediscovered in 1971 by Keith Stroup. The hyperbole and terrible acting was unintentionally hilarious and as the film was in public domain it began to spread through college film festivals across the USA. People began making copies and it soon became a cult classic.

Bambi meets Godzilla

Marv Newland created a scribbled little animation of Bambi meeting Godzilla in the 1970’s. It aired to fill gaps on the networks HBO and Showtime and as VCRs became more mainstream people began to record the animation and it spread.

Jesus vs Frosty (South Park)

Matt Stone and Trey Parker pooled $750 to make a cartoon out of construction paper. The cartoon was shown at the 1992 University Colorado film festival and was an instant hit. People made bootlegs of the VHS and it spread quickly, growing so popular it made its way to an executive at Fox. They were hired to create a video Christmas card for the executive and soon the new version of the cartoon, called “Jesus vs Santa” was a viral hit among network heads. This was how they came to the attention of Comedy Central and how South Park came to be developed for TV.

Ancient Memes

Memes as viral content have existed nearly forever it seems, they were named by Dawkins in his book “The Selfish Gene”.

“Examples of memes are tunes, ideas, catch-phrases, clothes fashions, ways of making pots or of building arches. Just as genes propagate themselves in the gene pool by leaping from body to body via sperms or eggs, so memes propagate themselves in the meme pool by leaping from brain to brain via a process which, in the broad sense, can be called imitation.” – Richard Dawkins

Three Hares:

The three hares symbol is ancient and worldwide. Originating in 6th century Sui Dynasty cave temples in China, the symbol is also found on 13th century Mongolian metal work, and a copper coin found in Iran dated 1281.

It is also found on an ancient Russian reliquary, historical synagogues in Europe, and churches in the southwest of England where they are referred to as “Tinners Rabbits”.

It has been considered a Buddhist symbol, a Christian symbol, a Jewish symbol and a puzzle. It’s spread through Europe is usually attributed to merchants travelling along the Silk Road, but there is no real confirmation as to how the image became so widespread.

The Sator Square:


The sator square is a nonsensical Latin palindrome that can also be read upside down. The translation is thought to mean “The sower is at the plough”, but it is not truly accurate as no one knows what the word arepo means, only close translations.

The earliest example of the square was found in the ruins of Pompeii and dated around 79 A.D, but examples have been found across Europe dating from the 2nd century, showing the spread of this message throughout England, France, Portugal and even Sweden. It was most likely brought across Europe by the Roman Empire.

Some Notes

Viral content and mob justice

Bin cat and 4chan

Tumblr and 4chan vs Jessi Slaughter (11 years old)

How/why do things go viral?

Kevin Allocca – Why videos go viral

Three elements are needed to allow content to go viral:

1. Tastemakers
2. Community participation
3. Unexpectedness

Tastemakers are the people who bring the content to our attention. Tastemakers are often people in the media, like talk show hosts, celebrities, newspaper columnists, or even prolific bloggers or twitter users. They have a wide audience to share their finds with. Double Rainbow is an example of this – Jimmy Kimmel picked up on the Double Rainbow video several months after it was originally posted and it became an overnight sensation.

Community participation is essential to viral videos. Community participation not only means the content is shared and spread from person to person, but is also often the subject of additional content created in response to the original media. There are many examples of this in the form of parody videos and video responses on youtube. Nyan cat is a good example with many remixes being made like the international versions, and also the cats watching nyan cat video responses.

Unexpectedness is what makes a video, story or picture stand out from the millions of others uploaded. The uniqueness and surprise is what captures our attention and causes us to remember and share the content with others.

Viral content was less common prior to the internet because not only was communication slower, old media was more restrictive of what could be put out on the airwaves or in print. Rules and rigid standards would stifle the unexpected beauty of viral content. Self-publishing videos and content online means there is no one needed to green light your projects and allows the uniqueness of individuals to be shared with others.

Early internet

Chain emails and posts have been around pretty much since the internet first came to be.

Chain emails will be sent directly to a person's inbox, whereas a chain post will be issued on a social media site, like a post on a Facebook wall, or a Myspace bulletin.

To illicit a response, similar to the old snail mail chain letters, the emails and posts will try to manipulate or intimidate recipients into passing along the message. They may make threats of bad luck or promises of good luck, or try to scare people with gory stories of murder or hauntings. Sometimes the chain letter will suggest the person reading has won a fabulous prize or is owed money. Regardless of the method, there is always an attempt to stimulate fear, curiosity, greed or superstition in the hopes of spreading the message and in some cases a computer virus.

There are of course never any consequences to not forwarding the emails, but the emotions they illicit are often enough to perpetuate their continued existence.

What went viral?

There are no firm statistics for chain letters as they are generally privately passed from one person to another, but the reach is still known to be considerable.

In one research study researchers looked at two e-mail petitions that circulated within the past 10 years.

One petition in support of public radio began circulating in 1995, and the other, in opposition to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, originated in 2002. The messages had the common characteristic of being widely circulated--the researchers were able to find 316 copies of the public radio petition containing more than 13,000 signatures, and 637 copies of the Iraq petition with almost 20,000 signatures. View petition

Some common chain emails

'Little Dead Girl Clarissa'

Violent/Disturbing content

No circulation date given.

WARNING! Carry on reading! Or you will die, even if you only looked at the word warning! Once there was a little girl called Clarissa, she was ten-years-old and she lived in a mental hospital, because she killed her mom and her dad. She got so bad she went to kill all the staff in the hospital so the -government decided that best idea was to get rid of her so they set up a special room to kill her, as humane as possible but it went wrong the machine they were using went wrong. And she sat there in agony for hours until she died. Now every week on the day of her death she returns to the person that reads this letter, on a monday night at 12:00a.m. She creeps into your room and kills you slowly, by cutting you and watching you bleed to death. Now send this to ten other people on this one site, and she will haunt someone else who doesn't.

This isn't fake. apparently, if u copy and paste this to ten comments in the next ten minutes u will have the best day of ur life tomorrow. u will either get kissed or asked out, if u break this chain u will see a little dead girl in your room tonight. in 53 mins someone will say i love you or I'm sorry

Example 1: Jenny didn't believe this and deleted it without even reading. the whole thing! A few days. later on the monday night, she was woken up by loud footsteps. and heavy breathing, there was. Clarissa standing there with a huge knife

Carmen Winstead Vengeful Ghost

(Violent/Disturbing content)

In circulation since at least 2006

Bullying killed her. There and then, Carmen decided that she couldn't take the bullying any longer. She planned to stay behind, that evening, after school, and tell her teacher what had been happening. Unfortunately, her decision came too late to save her life. After lunch, her teacher announced that the school was holding a fire drill. When the alarm sounded, Carmen and the other students filed out of the classroom and assembled in the yard outside. As the teachers read out the roll call, the gang of five girls decided that this was a great opportunity to embarrass Carmen in front of the whole school during the fire drill. They moved over to where Carmen was standing, near a sewer drain, and began crowding the poor girl, getting in her face and nudging her towards the open manhole. They pushed her and she tripped over and fell head-first down the manhole. When they saw her falling, the girls started giggling and when Carmen's name was called out, they shouted "She's down in the sewer!" All of the other students began laughing. But when the teachers looked down the manhole and saw Carmen's body lying at the bottom in the muck and the poop, the laughter abruptly stopped. Her head was twisted around at an odd angle and her face was covered in blood. Worse still, she wasn't moving. There was nothing any of the teachers could do for her. Carmen was dead.

When the police arrived and went down into the sewer, they determined that she had broken her neck. Her face had been torn off when she hit the ladder on the way down and her neck snapped when she landed on her head on the concrete at the bottom. The police hauled Carmen's body out of the sewer and sent her to the mortuary. Everyone had to stay behind after school while the police questioned all of Carmen's classmates. The five girls lied to the police, saying they had witnessed Carmen falling down the sewer. The police believed the girls and Carmen Winstead's death was ruled an accident and the case was closed. Everyone thought that was the last they would hear of Carmen Winstead, but they were wrong.

Months later, Carmen's classmates began receiving strange e-mails on their MySpaces. The e-mails were titled "They Pushed Her" and claimed that Carmen hadn't really fallen down the sewer, she had been pushed. The e-mails also warned that the guilty people should own up and take responsibility for their crime. If they didn't there would be horrible consequences. Most people dismissed the e-mails as a hoax, but others were not so sure. A few days later, one of the girls who pushed Carmen down the sewer was at home taking a shower, when she heard a strange cackling laugh. It seemed to be coming from the drain. The girl started to freak out and ran out of the bathroom. That night, the girl said goodnight to her mom and went to sleep. Five hours later, her mom was awoken in the middle of the night, by a loud noise that resounded throughout the house. She ran into her daughter's room, only to find it empty. There was no trace of the girl. The worried mother called the police and when they arrived, they conducted a search of the area. Eventually, they discovered the girl's grisly remains. Her corpse was lying in the sewer, covered in muck and poop. Her neck was broken and her face missing. It had been completely torn off.

One by one, all of the girls who pushed Carmen that day were found dead. They had all been killed in exactly the same way and were all found at exactly the same spot. In the sewer at the bottom of the same uncovered manhole where Carmen had met her doom.

But the killing didn't stop there. More and more of Carmen's former classmates were found dead. It seemed that anyone who didn't believe that Carmen had been pushed, was eventually found down in the sewer with their necks broken and their faces torn off. They say that Carmen's ghost is still on the rampage, hunting down anyone who doesn't believe her story. According to the legend, Carmen will get you, whether it's from a toilet, a shower, a sink or a drain. When you go to sleep, you'll wake up in the sewer, in complete darkness, paralyzed, unable to move, hearing cackling laughter all around you. Then, as you scream in horror, Carmen will come and tear your face off. So be careful who you bully, because you just might find yourself on the receiving end of the curse of Carmen Winstead.

FACT: About two months later, 16-year-old David Gregory read this post and didn't repost it. When he went to take a shower, he heard laughter, started freaking out, and ran to his computer to repost it. He said goodnight to his mom and went to sleep, but five hours later, his mom woke up in the middle of the night from a loud noise and David was gone. A few hours later, the police found him in the sewer, with a broken neck and the skin on his face peeled off. Even Google her name - you'll find this to be true. If you don't repost this saying "They hurt her," then Carmen will get you, either from a sewer, the toilet, the shower, or when you go to sleep, you'll wake up in the sewer, in the dark, then Carmen will come and kill you.

Moon Split Miracle regarding Islamic prophecy

No circulation date given.

Subject: MIRACLE. Moon Split

Miracle of Prophet Muhammad

The split of Moon 'Proved by Scientists' Moon Split

This picture shows the location of the "Rocky Belt" which shows the moon was once split. The unbelievers of Makkah said to the prophet that if you are truly a prophet split the moon and if you do we shall believe. It was a full moon that night...

And so the prophet prayed to Allah to grant him this miracle, and the moon was split. half was seen over Mount. Saffa, and the other half was seen over Mount. Kaikaan.

The people said that the prophet has placed a spell on us, however if he played trick on us, then he cant play trick on all the people in the world! Abu Jahl then said: "let us wait until the people of Albadiah come, and if they saw the moon split, then it is true, if not then we all know it was a trick of magic. When the people of Albadiah came they said that they too saw the moon split, and the disbelievers said "oh, how powerful Mohammad's magic is!" Then Allah revealed Surat al Qamar: "The hour has come near and the moon has split, and when they see a sign, they turn and say 'this is a continuous magic' and they disbelieved abd followed their desires..."

This took place in the days of the prophet Muhammad in Makkad.

In one of Dr. Zaghlool Al-Najaar's seminars, in one of the British universities said: "The miracle of the splitting of the moon has been proven recently"... "One of the british brothers who is very concerned about the state of Islam "Dawood Musa" who is the new chairman of the British Muslims party said "While he was searching for a religion, a friend gave him a copy of the Quran translated in english. he opened it & came across surat Al-Qamar & read "The hour has come & the moon has split", looking at this he said 'The moon has split?! he then stopped reading & did not open it again.

Then one day while watching a program on the BBC, the broadcaster was talking with 3 American scientists, & the broadcaster was blaming America for spending billions of dollars on space projects, in a time where millions of people are suffering from poverty. The scientists were trying to explain why it is important to go into space exploration. Soon the scientists came to discuss the most expensive trip tp the moon, which costed about $100 billion, so the broadcaster asked them "So to put the American flag on the moon you spent this much money?!"

The scientists stated that this much money was spent because they were trying to study the internal structure of the moon to see what similarities it has with the Earth, & they said that they were surprised to find a 'Belt of Rocks' that goes from the surface of the moon right to the inner depths.

Being quite surprised, they gave this information to their geologists, who were also surprised, as they concluded that this couldn't be unless the moon was once split & resealed. The rocks on the belt are a result of the impact during the time that 2 halves of the moon recombined.

Watching this brother Dawood Mussa jumped off his seat screaming "This is Muhammad's miracle which occurred more than 1400 years ago, & now the Americans are spending billions of dollars to prove it to the Muslims. He then said "This must surely be a true religion, & so, where once Surat Al-Qamar was a cause for him disbelieving in Islam, it was now the reason for him embracing Islam...

Please don't break this chain, send it to all u know.

Prayer request for woman with cervical cancer

This is a mutated chainmail starting from a genuine prayer request in 2001. Cindy Hogman went into remission in 2002 but the chainmail still circulates with many altered details and additions.

Subject: Fw: Fw: Fwd: Prayer Request

Prayer request for Gary and Cindy Hogman - don't delete please!

Gary is serving in Iraq while his young wife is fighting cancer here.


Tough times don't last... Tough people do.

My name is Gary Hogman. Some of you receiving this know me, some do not. My wife, Cindy, is 32 years old and has just been diagnosed 3 days ago with stage 4 cervical cancer and her chances for survival are very slim.

She was pregnant with our second child and had miscarried recently at 3 months, and now we know why. This is a request for you to forward this e-mail to everyone you know asking for prayer. The more people that pray her to be healed, the better.

Pray and forward. It only takes a second to hit 'forward'. Please do it and don't delete this, your prayer can, and perhaps will, save her life. Please pray and ask everyone you know to pray for the HEALING of Cindy and the removal of all cancer in her body, so she may enjoy all that life has to offer, and to continue to be the wonderful Mother to our 5 year old son Michael. The power of Prayer is unsurpassed.

I want the whole world to have her in their prayers the next few weeks. God will hear our cry. Please do not be offended by my plea.. This is only a request for your help.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for reading this and helping with our request for healing! No words can express the power we have when we each do a little to come together.

Regards, Cindy's husband -Gary

Thank you, and please send it to the far reaches of our world. Thanks, God Bless you all.

Prayer request for an 11 year old boy with cancer

Circulating since 2005

Subject: Prayer Request from Peggy Lesley

Special Prayer Request from Peggy Lesley at Brookwood Church . I am starting a signing for my son's best friend who has cancer (Hodgkin's Lymphoma). He is 11 years old and is not doing well at all. He was diagnosed with this cancer 2 weeks ago and the tumor is next to his jugular vein and entwined in it...has moved his wind pipe over a inch making it hard for him to breathe.

The tumor is the size of a large eggplant and is sitting right above his heart. This little boy needs all the prayer he can get. I would like you to sign this and pass it on to as many people as you can. Once we get to a thousand people can you please send this back to me at: [Email Address Removed]

When I get the 1000 people that have signed it...I am going to print this up for my sons best friend and show him how many people care and how many people are praying for him to get better. If you have a heart at all, you will all do this for me. I love this child as though he is my own and we really need all the prayers!

Thank you, Peggy Lesley - Brookwood Church 4th and 5th grade Volunteer Coordinator

Hit FORWARD and Add your name to the bottom of the list and send it out to as many people as you can and pray for him! [List of 795 names removed]

Founded by 3 ex PayPal employees, Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim, the domain was first activated February 14 2005 and the site officially launched in November 2005. More than 1 billion unique users visit YouTube each month, and over 6 billion hours of video are watched each month on YouTube.

First Video

The first video posted to the site was a video of co-founder Jawed Karim at the San Diego zoo. It's titled "Me at the zoo" and was posted on 23 April 2005. You can still view the video. It has 11,542,637 views.

First Viewing Milestones

In July 2006 it was announced more than 65,000 new videos were being uploaded daily. The site was also receiving 100 million video views a day. (In a sense YouTube itself was a viral sensation.)

Purchased by Google on 13 November 2006 just a year after it opened its theoretical doors to the general public, YouTube was purchased by Google, truly showing what a phenomenon it had created with its unique video sharing platform.

Currently YouTube is listed at the third most visited site behind Google and Facebook according to Alexa Internet Inc.

Viral Content

The most viewed User-Generated Video of all time is "Charlie bit my finger – again!"

It was posted 22 May 2007 and has been viewed 531,352,130 times. Everyone from Tennessee to Timbuktu has seen Gangnam Style making it by far the most viewed video on the internet. But more on that later…

Top Videos

  • Evolution of Dance
  • Diet Coke + Mentos
  • My First Kiss
  • Shining Remix Trailer
  • Ok Go – Here It Goes Again
  • Dramatic Chipmunk
  • Chocolate Rain
  • Thriller
  • Leave Britney Alone
  • Soulja Boy - Crank That
  • F*@#ing Matt Damon
  • Jizz in my pants
  • Bill O'Reilly Freakout
  • Take On Me: Literal Video Version
  • Tom Cruise Scientology Video
  • Susan Boyle – I Dreamed A Dream
  • David After Dentist
  • JK Wedding Dance – Forever
  • Evian Roller Babies
  • Twilight – New Moon Trailer
  • Bed Intruder Song (Autotune)
  • Key of Awesome – Tik Tok Parody
  • Greyson Chance Paparazzi
  • Old Spice
  • Double Rainbow
  • Ultimate Dog Tease
  • Jack Sparrow Ft Michael Bolton
  • Nyan Cat
  • Iphone 5 Concept
  • Rebecca Black – Friday
  • Psy – Gangnam Style
  • Gotye Cover
  • Kony 2012
  • Call Me Maybe - Carly Rae Jepsen
  • Barack Obama vs Mitt Romney
  • Psy - Gentleman
  • What Does The Fox Say?
  • Wrecking Ball (Chatroulette)
  • How animals eat their food
  • Harlem shake
  • Katy Perry - Dark Horse
  • Mutant Giant Spider Dog
  • Nike Football: Winner Stays
  • First Kiss
  • Iphone 6 plus bend test


Facebook was created by Mark Zuckerburg and launched on 4 February 2004 under its former name “The Facebook”. It was based on a previous social networking site he had developed, before being expelled from Harvard, called Facemash.

Facebook was exclusively for colleges until 2005, when it allowed high school students to create profiles for the first time. However, in September 2006 Facebook changed its policy again and allowed anyone over the age of 13 to create a profile.

In December 2004 Facebook had 1 million users, and by July 2009 it had increased to 250 Million. One year later it doubled to 500 million and finally in October 2012 Facebook hit 1 billion members. At the end of January 2014, 1.23 billion users were active on the website every month.

Facebook activated the like button feature on 9 February 2009. There are on average 2.7 billion unique likes per day, amassing to an average of 955 billion annually. They activated the like button plug in to connect Facebook with external websites on 21 April 2010, just over a year after the like button was introduced.

On 12 June 2013 Facebook announced clickable hashtags would become part of the Facebook experience to enable users to search the topics being discussed over the web easily. This seems to show how ubiquitous the hashtag has become in social networking and keeping on trend with global discussion.

- On February 3, 2014, Facebook celebrated its 10th anniversary. In each of the first 3 months of 2014, over one billion users logged into their Facebook account from a mobile device.

Viral Content

For many years of course Facebook was by far the most popular social media platform, taking over this role when the original social media platform Myspace decided to overcomplicate its site and alienate many users. Although now somewhat in a slow decline due to the rise of other competing social networking platforms, arguably one of the real strengths of Facebook is the ability of its users to spread content by the mere click of a button simply by liking or sharing content, something that we all now take for granted. In this way certain content suddenly, and sometimes inexplicably, became viral and a truly global phenomenon.

Take for example, R ‘n’ B singer and expert Facebook manipulator Tyrese Gibson, has three times claimed the top spot for most shared Facebook posts, notably by wedding his name to this homemade footage of a man helping a dead shark to give birth.

To date the video has received a stagg"ering total of 2, 066, 314 shares and 805, 832 likes with an amazing 111,468,194 Views. Quite what a dead shark giving birth has to do with Tyrese’s music is anyone’s guess but in the viral world ordinary logic does not always prevail.

The most liked Facebook status record was set by Dawar Kazi from Karachi on 30 December 2011. The status says “once a man slapped a goat and the goat started crying BEY BEY now that goat is known as Justin Bieber.”

The most shared post was likely the powerball hoax performed by Nolan Ryan Daniels. He posted a fake picture of a winning lottery ticket on 30 November 2012 and promised to give a million dollars to a randomly selected person who shared his status. It was shared roughly 100 times a minute, garnering over 2 million total shares.

The most liked Facebook photo is Barack Obama’s “Four more years” shot that received 4,441,860 likes and 215,510 comments.

According to the social content analytics firm Newswhip by far the most popular generic shares and likes on Facebook were quizzes. The full top ten list is:

1. He Saved 669 Children During the Holocaust… And He Doesn't Know They're Sitting Next to Him

2. ‘What Animal Are You?’ with 2,956,674 likes and 830,547 shares

3. ‘How Observant Are You?’ with 1,088,214 likes and 1,661,369 shares

4. ‘Can We Guess your Real Age?’ with 868,724 likes and 1,388,671 shares

5. "What State Do You Actually Belong In?"

6. ‘What Colour is Your Aura?’ with 973,822 likes and 1,594,462 shares

7. ‘How Old are you at Heart?’

8. "How Old Do You Act?"

9. "What Kind of Woman Are You?"

10. "How Did You Die in Your Past Life?"

The most liked Facebook page is “Facebook for Every Phone” with 544,286,776 likes.

The most liked celebrity Facebook page is Shakira with 106,306,205 likes.


Twitter was created on 21 March 2006 by Jack Dorsey. He wanted to create an SMS based social networking site to keep groups of people connected.

In July 2006 Twitter was officially launched.

Twitter’s popularity grew significantly in March 2007 at the SXSWi conference. Twitter set up large screens around the conference offering attendees the chance to use their service via text and keep updated and in touch via the screens. This led to a jump in tweets from 20,000 per day, to 60,000. When the conference was finished Twitter was lauded on news outlets and blogs for their service and the social network continued to grow.

Twitter had 100 million tweets per quarter in 2008. This grew to 50 million tweets a day in February 2010. There were noted to be 70,000 registered Twitter accounts. In June 2010 65 million tweets a day were sent, equalling about 750 tweets per second according to twitter. As of March 2011, 140 million tweets per day were being posted.

In 2014, a record 618,725 tweets per minute were posted about Germany’s victory over Argentina in the Football World Cup.

On April 30 2009 Twitter added the trending topics side bar, for the first time enabling users to see exactly what was currently most discussed and going on in the world.

Viral Content

When it comes to Facebook’s biggest rival Twitter then we can see a big difference in how the platform is actually used. If the most shared and liked pages were quiz based, then with Twitter the most retweeted content tended to be news stories, albeit of the more populist variety. The top retweeted story of 2014 was:

Premiere: Teen Dreamboat Shawn Mendes Goes The Distance In “Show You” Lyric with 157,397 tweets

10 most popular accounts as of July 2013:

61.53 million followers

57.77 million followers

51.19 million followers

47.2 million followers

47.11 million followers

43.08 million followers

39.86 million followers

38.35 million followers

38.35 million followers

35.91 million followers

Most Retweeted Tweets


If only Bradley's arm was longer. Best photo ever. #oscars
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) March 3, 2014

Barack Obama (@BarackObama) – 500k+ retweets

Four more years.
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) November 7, 2012


Always in my heart @Harry_Styles . Yours sincerely, Louis
— Louis Tomlinson (@Louis_Tomlinson) October 2, 2011


— Justin Bieber (@justinbieber) January 24, 2014


— Justin Bieber (@justinbieber) January 24, 2014


Thank you all for helping me through this time with your enormous love & support. Cory will forever be in my heart.
— Lea Michele (@msleamichele) July 29, 2013


applied for xfactor,hope it all wrks out
— Niall Horan (@NiallOfficial) January 17, 2010


4 years. Thank you to everyone who is involved in this. I feel so lucky to be part of it. Everyone who has worked with us thank you.
— Harry Styles. (@Harry_Styles) July 23, 2014


Just sitting around being 20.
- Harry Styles. (@Harry_Styles) February 1, 2014

Social Impact

In 2013, Twitter won the Shorty Award for Apps and the Teen Choice Award for Choice Social Network.


Vine was created by Dom Hoffman and Rus Yuspov in June 2012. The company was acquired by Twitter just four months later in October.

Vine was released to the public on 24 January 2013 as a free app on iOS and since 2 June 2013 on Android.

Even with low adoption Vine is the most used video sharing app on the market and on April 9 2013 became the most downloaded app in the iOS app store.

On May 1, 2014, Vine launched the web version of the service to browse videos. In July 2014, Vine updated their app with a "loop count" showing how many times each vine was viewed.

Viral Content

Top Ten Most viewed Vine Videos:


This is what it looks like to hit a big league curveball ... off a pitching machine.


Falling Asleep Real Quick, LOL real fu*kin quick nigga


Made the most of his moment. Never change Miami.






"No Place I’d Rather be


This is the most terrifying clown prank of all time


Man Down


When you realise you’ve had one too many


Zin’s post on vine


Instagram is a photo sharing app created by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger and launched in October 2010. It allows easy and uniform photo sharing on a variety of different social networking sites.

In January 2011, Instagram incorporated hashtags into their posts. Instagram was only available on iOS until April 2012 when they launched on Android platforms.

Instagram had over 100 million users by April 2012. Facebook closed the deal to purchase Instagram on 6 September 2012.

In June 2013 Instagram began allowing users to upload 15 second videos to their accounts in an attempt to compete with Vine.

As of September 9, 2013, the company had a total of 150 million monthly active users.

In December 2013, Instagram added a feature named Instagram Direct allowing users to send photos only to a specific user or group of users.

Viral Content

Top Ten Instagram Accounts:

1. Instagram

47 million followers

2. Kim Kardashian

23.5 million followers

3. Beyonce

22.9 million followers

4. Ariana Grande

22 million followers

5. Justin bieber

21.1 million followers

6. Selena Gomez

20 million followers

7. Taylor Swift

17.7 million followers

8. Kendall Jenner

17.1 million followers

9. Khloe Kardashian

16 million followers

10. Kylie Jenner

15.7 million followers

The Most Popular Instagram Photo

Kim Kardashians Wedding Photo

2.4 million likes

Justin Bieber’s photos frequently rake in over 1m likes a time.


Reddit was founded in June 2005 by Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian and was acquired by Conde Nast Publications in October 2006. It split from Conde Nast in September 2011 and is now a subsidiary of Conde Nast’s parent company, Advance Publications.

Reddit entries are sorted into ‘subreddits’ based on interests. There are over 5,400 active subreddits.

In February 2013, Reddit began accepting the digital currency bitcoin for its Reddit Gold subscription service.

As of May 2013, the median Reddit user was male (59%), 18–29 years of age, and from the USA (68%)

Viral Content

It is hard to gauge the true number of Redditors that exist because of the prevalence of throwaway accounts. The ability to remain anonymous on Reddit is one of its big draws for many. You are not required to provide an email address on sign up.



7,560,338 subscribers


7,487,878 subscribers


7,481,234 subscribers


7,360,700 subscribers


7,220,305 subscribers


4,252,500 subscribers


7,177,135 subscribers


7,131,330 subscribers


7,117,221 subscribers


6,750,425 subscribers


6,694,526 subscribers


6,305,638 subscribers


6,076,739 subscribers


5,955,065 subscribers


4,770,481 subscribers

Top posts of all time:


This is Carter. He knocked on my door to ask if he could have a banana then left.
By Theone211 to /r/funny 
29471 points and 3022 comments


test post please ignore.
By qgyh2 to/r/pics    
    21875 points and 2213 comments


The Bus Knight.
By Robert_Houdin to /r/funny
21313 points and 1448 comments.


I live in the same valley as Adam West. I decided to look him up in the phone book today.
By slapshotten11 to /r/funny
18794 points and 983 comments


This guy is a reporter on Fox 2 here in Detroit. His name is Charlie LeDuff. He is fucking awesome.
By LowPEZ to /r/videos 
      17370 points and 1050 comments.


This animated short about a lazy guy in outer space is pretty hilarious.
By medabeR to /r/videos
    16858 points and 1132 comments.


After searching FB for people with the same name as me, I'd replicate their profile pic, make it my own and send them a friend request. Here are the pics.
By CasinoRoy to /r/funny
14879 points and 2854 comments.


I am Barack Obama, President of the United States – AMA.
By PresidentObama to /r/IAmA
      14759 points and 23908 comments.


I sent Tom Hanks a 1934 Smith Corona typewriter with a typed invitation to come on my podcast. This was his response.
By ChrisHardwick to /r/pics
  14560 points and 2371 comments.


What tasty food would be disgusting if eaten over rice?
By DO_U_EVIN_SPAGHETTI to /r/AskReddit
14434 points and 6387 comments.

Notably, Reddit’s top posts of all time are not by celebrities, as is usually the case for popular social media posts. Although the 8th highest ranking post of all time is the Barack Obama AMA (Ask me Anything).

Top posts in /r/funny


This is Carter. He knocked on my door to ask if he could have a banana then left.
By Theone211
29471 points and 3022 comments


The Bus Knight.
By Robert_Houdin to /r/funny
21313 points and 1448 comments.


I live in the same valley as Adam West. I decided to look him up in the phone book today.
By slapshotten11 to /r/funny
18794 points and 983 comments


After searching FB for people with the same name as me, I'd replicate their profile pic, make it my own and send them a friend request. Here are the pics.
By CasinoRoy to /r/funny
14879 points and 2854 comments.


Babe caught me slippin’
By iSpellBadly
14152 points and 461 comments.



test post please ignore.
By qgyh2 to/r/pics    
    21875 points and 2213 comments


I sent Tom Hanks a 1934 Smith Corona typewriter with a typed invitation to come on my podcast. This was his response.
By ChrisHardwick to /r/pics
  14560 points and 2371 comments.


My grandpa, my dad, and myself. Making three generations of wives worried sick.
By Sandite5
12885 points and 912 comments


Got divorced, lost my job, so me and my buddy got on our motorcycles and rode North to the Alaskan Arctic until the road ran out.
By coliform
12123 points and 4535 comments.


My friends call him “Mr Ridiculously Photogenic Guy”.
By TheKoG
11902 points and 2636 comments.



This guy is a reporter on Fox 2 here in Detroit. His name is Charlie LeDuff. He is fucking awesome.
17370 points and 1050 comments


This animated short about a lazy guy in outer space is pretty hilarious.
By medabeR
16858 points and 1132 comments


Preacher speaks out against gay rights and then… wait for it.
By Buddhas_Buddha
12641 points and 2967 comments


By HohD2W
12138 points and 1246 comments.


How daylight savings affects us in the north.
By Ueland
10857 points and 1986 comments



"What we have... is... concrete proof of U.S.-based... companies participating with the NSA in wholesale surveillance on us, the rest of the world, the non-American, you and me," Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer at Finnish software security firm F-Secure.
By dantesinfer
10155 points and 2758 comments


NASA officially announces Manned Mars Mission, test launch will begin tomorrow testing orbiter.
By Herman99999999999
7871 points and 4157 comments


British PM David Cameron told a member of his cabinet to warn the Guardian newspaper of serious consequences of publishing Snowden material
by waggawagga
7707 points and 1788 comments.


Canada creates $5,000 cap on liability for file sharing lawsuits
by mapper
7456 points and 1725 comments.


The United States will normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba, open embassy in Havana
by i_love_fsa
7248 points and 7473 comments



My girlfriend recently got a cornea transplant. Here is a high res image of the stitches in her eye
By Philawesomeraptor
8788 points and 1302 comments.


Number of police cars in front of my high school because ONE student streaked during lunch
By hoohooxx
8225 points and 2536 comments


My buddy is at the Pensacola airport. I think his flight is gonna be delayed.
By jaded76
7370 points and 729 comments.


My sister pointed out this definition for necklace in her hello kitty dictionary...
By caramelnipples
7314 points and 1159 comments


i am one of the 50 wounded in the aurora theatre shooting. here are a few photos of my very lucky but nonethless terrifying brush with death. my thoughts go out to those less fortunate than me.
By themurderator
      7169 points and 8874 comments



Tumblr was founded in 2006 by David Karp and Marco Arment and launched officially in February 2007 to fill the gap in the market for short form blogging.

Within the first two weeks of launch Tumblr gained 75,000 users.

As of May 2013 the site is hosting over 108 million blogs. A deal to from Yahoo to purchase Tumblr was finalised on 20 June 2013.

In April 2013 the website received more than 13 billion global page views.

As of January 2015, over 88 million posts were created on the site each day.

Viral Content

It is difficult to track the most popular posts of Tumblr as the stats are constantly changing as a post is reblogged or hearted (liked). There are also different levels of privacy on Tumblr and no way to know how many followers a blog as so statistics involve some amount of guess work when it comes to Tumblr.


Most popular Tumblr posts:

Mitt Romney sucks pass it on

Was 8 million notes at the time of this article. It has evolved from being a one line post simply saying “Mitt Romney sucks pass it on.” into something much larger.

Randy Newman for President

The post currently has 14,792,284 notes.

There is a Tumblr blog dedicated to posts with over 50,000 notes.



‘Rare legless ghost’


Taylor Swift


‘She’s keeping the football jersey’


6 year old fan asks Sebastian a question.


Women of Colour


At what age did you lose your compassion


Let people be happy


Who should run the internet


You live in Ohio


Yes I'm super chill all the time


Finally, Snapchat, one of the most recent social media apps launched in 2012, photo messaging application developed by Evan Spiegel, Bobby Murphy, and Reggie Brown, has already built up an extremely large following and established a clear list of who the cool people are to follow. The top ten are as follows:


Ryan Seacrest


Casey Neistat


Now This News


Good Morning America


The Los Angeles County Museum of Art


Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon


NPR News




HBO’s “Girls”


Jared Leto

The most popular story/image set on Snapchat in 2014 was simply titled ‘Baloon’ and featured a hoodie with a balloon inside so it could masquerade as a student in class:

The top fifteen stories to appear and be seen on Snapchat can be found here:
15 most important Snapchat stories of 2014

Top fifteen




Good Day


Barbie, I have something to tell you


All this






Conceal, Don’t feel


Pull my finger






A trilogy


Deep thoughts


Lab Mice




Math Teacher.